The life of a First Year University Student
Advice and My First Year Experience
University has always been believed to be this amazing experience in which you live the best few years of your life. It is a stage of life that impacts young people all over the world. But does the expectation really fit the reality? I'm going to be looking back at my experience of freshers, making friends, living away from home and balancing work with play all in your first year. I think that first it is important to say that it's ok if university isn't for you, you shouldn't feel in anyway under pressure to go. University should be something you want to do and experience. On that note, let's get on with looking back on my year.
I have a lot of friends that have said that they found it very hard to find new friends in the first few weeks of university and that it wasn't this amazing experience they expected and almost felt embarrassed about it. I think it needs to be said that you should feel no pressure to have the best 'time of your life' and that you should never be happier than you are at uni. You don't have to fulfil the expectation of finding the perfect friends on your first day and living out every moment of freshers perfectly. Everyone has their own experiences at uni and it is what you make it. There should be no expectation of how much fun you have. Just enjoy every moment as much as you can and take every day as it comes. Your fun will come. Some people make their 'friends for life' in their third year or even after their university experience so just enjoy every moment as much as you can and just embrace what you have because you only have one first year.
My experience of freshers was relatively lucky as it turns out one of my best friends lived in the room next to mine in my flat. Strange enough, on the first night of freshers, just before we were about to go out, me and the girl that lived next to me were in the kitchen and as we looked out of our wall of windows, across the building, we saw a group of people waving at us on the other side in their kitchen. We ended up being really close to this group. One of the boys ended up dating my flat mate and two of the girls ended up adding to our close girl group. I was very lucky in that my friends from day one ended up being my closest friends though my first year.
This definitely DOES NOT mean that there was no drama.
Of course it was going to be hard to have a smooth ride with this friendship group through the year because it is such a unique situation. For most people, becoming so close to the people you've just met and are now living with is a new experience. So there is bound to be some friction. But all round you will make friends that you will experience some really nice memories with and they will be a big part to you enjoying your first year. They are probably experiencing the same feelings you are so it is important to ride it out where you can and enjoy these moments.
When it comes to making friends, a lot of people have said that they take time to make friends and that they didn't make friends straight away. This is perfectly fine as long as you are taking every opportunity you can to be social, putting effort into making friends and remembering that you are all in the same boat in this situation and they are probably just as nervous as you are. You have nothing to lose and, although it may be strange to speak to so many people you don't know, it will work in your favour as time goes on. My advice would be to make the most of freshers and the events on offer. This is the best way to have as many opportunities as you can to make friends.
When it comes to relationships at uni, things can get a bit complicated. The most important thing is to make sure you know what you want out of that other person. Also, make sure they are aware of what you want and vice versa so that you can set boundaries in the relationship. University is the biggest place for distractions and temptations so it is important to make sure these lines are clear in whatever relationship you're having. In my opinion, university is a place where you should be free to enjoy whatever moment you're in and this isn't always easy in a relationship. The main thing is to just be careful and communicate with that other person and other than that just enjoy it.
When it comes to balancing books against your social life, university came as a shock to me. I spent A Levels feeling like I was drowning in books and, although I knew Uni wasn't going to be anywhere near as hard as A Levels, the balance really shocked me. The fact that I was studying and still able to have a life really made me happy. Being able to breathe and have a social life was one of the best parts of uni, whilst also knowing that you're getting a good degree. Studying at Uni is very different because it's something so specialised that you chose and so something you should really enjoy learning. Even so, your first year at uni is designed to allow you to settle in, build your social life and make a home away from home. It is the time to really enjoy yourself and make some great friends.
After looking back at my first year, there were definitely things along the way that really helped to make my transition smoother. I thought I'd pass on that advice to you. So here are some things I learned from my first year at university:
1. Buy a door stop. Having your door open all the time helps to show your flatmates that you're friendly and approachable. It makes it easier to make friends and be comfortable living with those other people.
2. Make your room homey. Put up pictures, fairy lights, whatever makes you happy in your room. Moving away from home can be scary and so dressing up your room can make it a lot easier to live and sleep in a new place.
3. Make the most of freshers fairs, events and nights out. These are the best places to get to know people and they are designed to help you settle in so I would definitely recommend.
4. Learn a few recipes. Don't get me wrong, there will definitely be a lot of ordering in and meals out but it might be easier on your pocket if you could learn how to cook, even a little.
5. Be overly friendly. I know it will feel weird at first, but getting to know everyone you see can be really good when it comes to making friends. If you feel nervous about it just remember that everyone is in the same boat and they are probably more nervous than you. It will soon become second nature.
6. Try and join clubs and societies. Whether it's sports, academics or arts that you enjoy, try and join some sort of group. This is also a great place to make friends as well as learning or developing a skill.
7. Make sure that going to uni is something you want to do. If it is something you were pushed into doing by your parents or your friends, then it might not be for you. Make sure you look into it properly to make sure it's what you want. If it's not there are so many other options nowadays that you can look at, just make sure you have a plan and that you're not making choices blindly.
Anyway, that's basically it. So if you are going to uni, enjoy it, make the most of it and have fun. Good luck!